« PreviousContinue »
doth the will of God, may know, I that it consists essentially in inwhether the doctrine, which our troducing the love of God into Saviour taught, or, (which is the the heart, and in preparing it to same thing)
that scheme of doc- obey his holy and righteous law. trines contained in the bible, and And if this be admitted, it is all, usually called the Christian sys- that is thought necessary, in tem, is of God, or of man.--To prosecuting the design of the illustrate and confirm the truth present essay. of this assertion is my present The particular object now in design.
view is to point out the connecTo accomplish this design, it tion between being born again, is necessary in the first place to and knowing that Christianity is show what it is to do the will of of God. This we shall do by God; and then point out the pointing out in several particuconnection between thus doing lars the peculiar manner, in his will, and knowing that Chris- which the real Christian is led tianity is of God.
to contemplate this interesting Mankind, being by nature pos- subject. sessed of a carnal mind, which is 1. The man who is born of enmity against God, cannot be God, and thus does his will, is supposed to do his will until they in a great measure freed from become new creatures, or are the influence of certain prejuborn of his Spirit. The com- dices against a variety of things mands of God being all holy, contained in the scriptures, by and summarily comprised in ex- which the judgments of others ercises of holy love, cannot be are often greatly biassed. There supposed to be obeyed by those are many things in the scripwhose hearts are sinful only, and tures, which appear like foolishin whom there is no good thing. ness to those, who have never Hence, every command address-passed from death unto life. ed to mankind in a natural state These things give an air of inmust include in it this ; “ repent credibility to the whole, and thus and be converted;" for without render it absolutely impossible obedience to this, there can be for that faith, which is “ the subno such thing as acceptable obe stance of things hoped for and dience to any other.-The man, the evidence of things not seen,” therefore, who is born of the I to exist.To illustrate the idea Spirit of God, is the man who is we will advert to a few particuprepared to know that the doc- lars.--The important and leadtrines taught in the sacred ora-ing doctrine of redemption thro' cles are not of man, but of God. the blood of the Son of God, is a
It is not proposed in this essay doctrine, against which the preto enter very particularly into judices of a carnal mind naturthe Christian character, by de-ally arise. Unaccustomed, as scribing the new birth, or stating mankind usually are, to consider minutely wherein the real Chris-themselves as very deeply intian is made to differ from oth- volved in sin and guilt, and at ers: For, it is presumed, it will the same time totally insensible generally be granted, that re-of the insufficiency of their own generation is not only an impor- works, they can hardly believe lant
, but also a great change, and it real, that the Son of God came
VOL. V. No. 7.
down to earth to die for the them strange and incredible ; sins of the world, and to atone but, they do not thus appear to for them by expiring on the those, whose hearts delight in cross.—But it is not thus with prayer, and whose minds are those, whose eyes have been continually looking up to God as opened to see their awfully the great disposer of all earthly wretched and helpless state. To events. Such persons can easithem, the only solid ground of ly believe, that “ the effectual, hope is the idea of a sacrifice of fervent prayer of a righteous infinite value offered by the Son man availeth much," and that of God himself.-The doctrine while « righteousness exalteth of regeneration also, to those, a nation," wickedness on the who have never experienced it, contrary will be its destruction, appears, as it did to Nichodemus, Such are the prejudices of those, to be a strange, incredible doc- whose understandings are blindtrine : But to those who have led by the deceitfulness of sin. passed from death unto life, it is Though they do not expressly as evident and undeniable as the controvert the truths of divine things they see with their bodi- revelation, yet a veil of incredily eyes. The miracles also, bility seems, in their view, to be which are recorded to have been spread over them: And though wrought, assume, in the view of they profess in words to believe, those who have not been born yet unbelief appears evidently to again, an air of incredibility. So have taken deep root in their far are they from the usual hearts. Whether divine revelacourse of things within the lim-tion be a truth or not, is in their its of their experience, that they | minds uncertain ; for it appears can hardly believe, they were more like an illusive deception, ever so common as is represent- than like an important reality.ed : But the man, to whom the The humble follower of our disacred oracles have been made vine Redeemer, however, finds the power of God, and the wis- this veil of incredibility in a great dom of God, sees no difficulty on measure reinoved. He contemthis subject. He can as easily plates divine truths with a mind believe in the healing of the sick, so free from the influence of preand raising of the dead to life, judice, that their reality and imas that such a dead sinner, as he portance are clearly seen. Inis conscious that he once was, stead of resisting the light, he is should be renewed to spiritual prepared to receive it in a most life.--To mention no more, the affectionate manner, and even to idea, which revelation gives of rejoice in the “ full assurance of the influence of prayer and reli- | faith.” gion on the things of this life, as 2. He, who does the will of well as of the life to come, is God, knows the truth of Chrissuch as appears incredible to tianity from the view, which it such as are not Christians indeed. gives of the human heart.Unaccustomed to look beyond / While he casts his eyes over the secondary to the great first cause, sacred pages, he cannot but noand at the same time, destitute tice, that they describe the huof any heart to pray, the influ- man heart, as being “deceitful Gnce of such things appears to labove all things, and desperately
wicked.”—He reads also, that change which it has been instru-
once the center of all his character of himself, but that he exertions, but now he aims, was taught it from on high, and, whether he eats or drinks or of course, he believes, that the whatever he does, to do all to the writers of the sacred books must glory of God. He not only sees have learned it in the same way. the wickedness of indulging his He receives their writings, natural inclinations in any fortherefore, as bearing on their bidden way, but feels also a very face the stamp of divine strong desire to mortify and truth ; and he can say with as- subdue them, and even takes satsurance : “ I am confident, that isfaction in doing it. His chief sinful man, unassisted by the happiness was once found in the Spirit of God, never could have enjoyment of sublunary objects, spoken like these.".
but now it is found in contem3. He, that is born of God, plating the character and ways knows the divine origin of Chris- of a holy. God.
Such is the tianity from the remarkable change which he is conscious has
passed upon him ; and it appears l great Creator, and on the other to him not only to be supernat- to abase the creature appears ural, but also to prove with the not only to be just, but at the greatest clearness the presence same time commands, in a very of creative power. He can easi- forcible manner, the approbation ly admit that human exertions of his heart.-That law which is might alter his external course there promulgated, and which of life, by making him believe it requires him to make God the to be his interest to pursue ob- first and supreme object of his jects which he had hitherto neg. affections, to love his fellow crealected, but he can never admittures as himself, and to restrain that mere human exertions his own inclinations within cercould alter the relish of his heart. tain prescribed limits, not only -And when he considers the appears to be holy, just and good, nature of this change, that it but possesses also in his view weans him from himself, and de- such attractive charms, that the votes him most entirely to the height of his desire is to obey it service of his Maker ; that it de- perfectly -The method of saltaches his affections from sub- vation also, through the atonelunary enjoyments, and fixes ment of Christ and sanctification them on spiritual and eternal ob- of the Spirit, appears to be perjects, preparing him to enjoy fectly adapted to the wretched the holy society of the heavenly state of our fallen race, and inworld ; he cannot but believe deed to be the only source from that it was effected by divine which a guilty, helpless sinner power : And, as it accompanied can derive a single ray of hope.-some of the solemn truths of In short the whole of the sacred the word, he receives it as a tes-volume fills his heart with pleas, timony from God himself, that | ing sensations-he reads it with the writings of the Prophets, | much delight and makes it a Evangelists and Apostles are in subject of daily and constant truth his word. And should any meditation. And the more he one controvert the consistency meditates the more he is conof his faith, he can say with the vinced, that it must have come blind man, who had been healed from God. He cannot possibly by, our Saviour :.“ Herein is a believe that doctrines, so mortify, miraculous thing, that ye know ing to the pride of the natural not whence it is, and yet it hath heart, and precepts, so diametopened mine eyes.”
rically opposite to the wishes of 4. He, that does the will of a selfish and sensual mind, could God, knows the divine origin of ever have originated in a depravChristianity from the peculiar ed heart : Nor does he believe, excellency which he discovers that a renewed heart would ever in its doctrines and precepts. have ascribed them to revelation While he muses on the contents from on high, had not that in of those sacred books, the flame fact been the case. While, thereof divine love is enkindled in his fore, he contemplates the pecuibosom, and burns with more than liar excellency of the sacred wriordinary vehemence. The pe- tings, and finds his heart transculiar tendency of its doctrines ported almost into raptures in to exalt on the one hand the view of the exalted subjects they
contain, he is ready to exclaim, ly persons who do not know it; this must of a truth be the word and of course, are the only per, of God :-Human nature, de- sons who can adopt the gentipraved as it is and unassisted by ments of the Infidel. It is bethe Spirit of God, never could cause the heart is under the inhave spoken like the holy Proph-fluence of sinful or selfish affecets, Evangelists and Apostles. tions, that any are prejudiced
Thus he, who does the will of against the truths of revelation, God, knows from what has taken or do not admit that they themplace in himself, that the sacred selves possess that character writings can be ascribed to noth- which it ascribes to human naing short of inspiration from ture : And it is owing to the above. A few remarks, which same cause that the sacred volnaturally offer themselves, will ume does not attract the heart to close this dissertation
such a degree, as to discover to 1. On what a solid and unsha- it those beauties and excellenken foundation does the faith of cies which bespeak it divine..
the real Christian rest! He be- The man therefore who denies . lieves Christianity to be of God, that the scriptures were written
not because he has been thus by inspiration of God, discovers taught from his infancy, but be- not only that his heart has never cause he has felt its influence on been renewed, but also that the his heart ;-Not on the ground | taste of his mind is awfully viof evidence which he has found tiated; for in that volume, which in human writings in its favor, attracts the warmest affections of but on the ground arising every holy heart, he sees no beaufrom his own conscious feeling, ty nor comeliness. And when which is as forcible as that of we consider that the doctrine of occular demonstration. The in- human depravity is one corner fidel, 'tis true, may confound him stone, on which the whole syswith his sophistry, or wound him | tem of doctrines, contained in with the shafts of his ridicule, divine revelation, is erected, does but his belief will still remain not the very existence of Infidels unshaken, for it rests on a foun-prove its truth ? Ye sons of Indation which such attempts can fidelity! While hurling your ennever affect. It is founded on venomed shafts against the rehis own experience and he may ligion of the cross, do they not as well be reasoned or ridiculed recoil from its invulnerable pilout of his belief of those things, lars, and turn their points against to which his own eyes have been yourselves ? witness, as out of his belief of 3. Is the impression, which Christianity. Reader! Dost thou the gospel makes on the mind, hope that thou art a Christian? | the most convincing evidence of Let me ask, is this the founda- its divine original to the person? tion of thy faith?
Hence, a knowledge of this im2. Depravity of heart is the pression ought to be convincing sole cause of infidelity. If all to those, who have not experienwho do the will of God know the ced its power... Though the divine origin of Christianity, blind, who were restored to sight then it follows, that those only, / by our Saviour, had the greatest who do not his will, are the on- reason to believe that a divine